Cover (Image: Philip Fong/AFP)

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have also been postponed

Additional reporting by Andrea Saadan

The new coronavirus outbreak can now be described as a pandemic, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced Wednesday. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was troubled by the spread and severity of the outbreak, along with a lack of action taken to combat it.

"WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we're deeply concerned, both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction," he told a news conference in Geneva. "We have therefore made the assessment that Covid-19 can be characterised as a pandemic."

The number of cases in over 100 countries around the world has risen to more than 124,000, with over 4,500 deaths, including a jump in fatalities in Iran and Italy in particular, according to an AFP tally. China remains the worst-affected country with more than 80,000 confirmed cases and over 3,000 deaths. 

The total number of cases in Singapore has risen to 178 after 12 new Covid-19 cases were reported yesterday. In neighbouring Malaysia, there are 149 cases at the time of writing while India suspended all tourist visas until April 15 and said it would quarantine travellers arriving from seven virus-hit countries in an attempt to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. The US has also suspended all travel from Europe (excluding the UK) to fight coronavirus, which comes as news about Hollywood star Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson being tested positive for coronavirus in Australia quickly spread online.

(Related: How Are Luxury Brands in Singapore Coping with the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak?)

Tedros said that over the past two weeks, the number of cases outside China had increased 13-fold and the number of affected countries had tripled. He said he expected the number of cases and deaths would grow in the coming days and weeks. "Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly," he told reporters, but he stressed that "describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO's assessment of the threat posed by the virus." It should not be taken by countries as a signal to give up on efforts to contain the virus with methods like contact-tracing, he said.

Here are the events and public spaces that have been cancelled or closed due to Covid-19 

Tourist attractions


Broadway suspended performances for a month as the world's most famous theatre district was hit by a ban on large public gatherings imposed on New Yorkers to stem the coronavirus outbreak. Performances close after 5pm (2100 GMT) on Thursday and will not start up again until April 13, the Broadway League announced. The Broadway closure is a major blow for a tourism income stream that brought in more than US$26.7 million last week alone. 

Disneyland and Disney-themed Parks

Disney will close its giant theme parks in Florida, California and Paris and pull the releases of major blockbusters including "Mulan" over the coronavirus, it announced Thursday.

Disneyland will close its doors beginning Saturday after California called for large gatherings to be cancelled to slow the spread of coronavirus, the resort said. The giant 100-acre (40-hectare) attraction in Anaheim is the second-most visited theme park in the world, drawing tens of thousands of visitors each day, but will remain shut at least until the end of March. Disney will monitor the situation, and on-site hotels will remain open until Monday (March 16) to give guests time to leave.

The operator of Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea said the parks will remain closed through early April over fears of the coronavirus outbreak. Oriental Land also said the openings of new zones and attractions, scheduled for April 15, will also be pushed back to mid-May, as the government calls on the public to avoid unnecessary outings and crowded places.

The virus has so far infected 568 people and been linked with 12 deaths in Japan. Oriental Land originally closed the parks from February 29 with a plan to reopen from March 16.

Cultural hubs in NYC

New York cultural institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced temporary closures and cancellations over the coronavirus pandemic. The Met said it would close from March 13 without giving a reopening date, while the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic cancelled programming through March 31. 

The Louvre

The Louvre in Paris said Monday that it was restricting entry to the world's most visited museum because of the coronavirus. Only people who have already reserved a ticket online, or those who normally benefit from free entry, will be allowed inside, it said.

Catholic churches across Rome

All Catholic churches across Rome have been closed to stem the spread of a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 1,000 people across Italy. The churches will reopen when a broader Italian government crackdown on public gatherings expires on April 3, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the papal vicar for Rome, said in a statement.

Saint Peter's Square

Over in Italy, The Vatican's Saint Peter's Square and its main basilica are closed to tourists as part of a broader clampdown aimed at curbing the coronavirus outbreak. The Holy See said the measures will remain in place until April 3 "in order to halt the spread of the coronavirus".

Visitors have also vanished from Asia's most visited sites, as its most Instagrammable sites from temples, promenades, shopping streets to museums and mausoleums are empty amid coronavirus fears. At the Angkor Wat complex, a 12th-century marvel of Khmer architecture, the season has brought the lowest number of tourists on record.

Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh museum, Anne Frank House 

The Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museums in the Dutch capital Amsterdam said Thursday they were closing until the end of March to help halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Several other major tourist draws in the Netherlands including the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, and major art museums in Rotterdam and The Hague, said they were also shutting their doors.

Music festivals


Organisers have rescheduled the Coachella music festival for October over coronavirus concerns, following a directive from local health authorities.

"While this decision comes at a time of universal uncertainty, we take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously," Goldenvoice, the company that puts on the massive event in the California desert, said in a statement.

The two-weekend festival set for April will now take place over the weekends starting Friday October 9 and 16. Tickets bought for the April dates will be valid in October, and those unable to attend will be able to obtain a refund, organisers said.

Ultra music festival

The highly anticipated Ultra Music Festival in Miami has been cancelled too. In a note published on its official Twitter page, the organisers said: “It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that The City of Miami has issued an official directive requiring that the 22nd edition of Ultra Music Festival, originally scheduled for March 20, 21 and 22, 2020 will be postponed to March 26, 27 and 28, 2021.” This year's event was supposed to mark the festival's return to Bayfront Park.


BTS, Pearl Jam, Madonna and Santana are among the A-list artists who've dropped or postponed concert dates at home and abroad over virus fears, with fine arts venues like the Boston Symphony Orchestra and New York's American Ballet Theater also cancelling tours in Asia and the Middle East. 

Mariah Carey has also delayed a planned gig in Hawaii over the virus.

But as the world reels from cancellations, it appears venues can count on at least one artist to stick it out.

Bob Dylan, 78, on Monday announced a summer North American tour—on top of April's schedule that has him playing 14 dates in Japan.

Sporting events


The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed to no later than the summer of 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, the International Olympic Committee announced on March 24. The Games were scheduled for July 24 to August 9, but after telephone discussions between IOC president Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a historic joint decision was taken for the first postponement of an Olympics in peacetime.


The US PGA Tour will ban spectators from tournaments through April 5. The move covers the final three rounds of Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, the Valspar Championship in Tampa, Florida, the WGC Match-Play in Austin, Texas and the Texas Open in San Antonio which concludes on April 5. The PGA Tour event in the Dominican Republic opposite the WGC Match-Play is postponed too.


The National Basketball Association announced on Wednesday that it was suspending the season until further notice after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus. It was previously reported that the match between Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets will be played behind closed doors in San Francisco on Thursday.

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) also called off a qualifying tournament for three-a-side basketball, which is set to make its debut at this year's Tokyo Olympics. The viability of the Games in Japan is in doubt as the country battles to contain the deadly virus. Teams from more than 20 countries were supposed to take part in the five-day qualifying tournament on March 18 in Bangalore. The postponement causes problems as the tournament has to take place before the next round of qualifying in Budapest starting April 24.


English Premier League matches and all football games in England will also be played behind closed doors, according to The Times. Europa League matches have also been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, much to the dismay of fans around the world. 


The Indian Wells ATP Masters and WTA tournament, Miami Open ATP Masters and WTA tournament and Houston ATP tournament have all been cancelled.

Celebrations and art fairs

The European Fine Art Fair

One of the world's premier fine art fairs was cut short in the Netherlands on Wednesday (March 11), hours after it was revealed that one of its exhibitors tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The European Fine Art Fair, commonly known as TEFAF and held in the southern city of Maastricht, decided to shut its doors four days ahead of schedule for the first time in its 32-year history.

"Given the recent developments in the regions around Maastricht and increasing concerns, we no longer feel it is appropriate to continue as planned," said the head of TEFAF's board of trustees, Nanne Dekking.

First held in 1988, TEFAF is widely regarded as the world's premier fine arts fairs and features 285 exhibitors from 22 different countries. Among this year's highlights were an 1891 oil painting by Edgar Degas, entitled "Three Dancers in Yellow Skirts", and Vincent van Gogh's 1885 oil painting, "Peasant Woman in front of a Farmhouse".

St Patrick's Day Parades

The Irish government has cancelled this year's St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin and around the country on medical advice because of the coronavirus outbreak. The annual parade celebrating the country's patron saint regularly attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the Irish capital and was to have been held on March 17. St Patrick's Day parades were previously cancelled in 2001 during an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Manhattan's St Patrick’s Day Parade, the largest such celebration in the world, has also been postponed. It is one of the city’s largest recurring public events.

Pasifika Festival

New Zealand cancelled one of the Pacific's largest cultural festivals on Friday (March 13), saying there was too much risk of attendees contracting coronavirus then spreading it throughout vulnerable island nations. Auckland's annual Pasifika Festival normally attracts more than 60,000 people from across the region and is billed as the biggest Polynesian celebration in the world.

This list will be updated accordingly